Yesterday I was looking for a simple healthy spinach salad to compliment a hearty Pasta Bake Casserole. I was taking dinner to a friend who just lost her mother and I wanted to bring food that is easy to heat up and assemble.
I came across this spinach salad recipe on juliasalbum.com and it is the perfect addition to almost any meal.
You can also substitute every ingredient in this simple salad to create fresh flavors and change it up depending on ingredients you have on hand.
It’s perfect as is but this simple spinach salad is also a great formula to help you get creative with your salads!
SPINACH SALAD SUBSTITUTIONS:
- PINE NUTS – If you don’t have any pine nuts on hand (or simply do not care for them) you can use toasted sliced or slivered almonds, toasted sesame seeds or toasted pumpkin seeds.
- PARMESAN – Instead of Parmesan cheese you can use Pecorino Romano or Asiago. Feta and goat cheese would also be good options for a softer cheese.
- SPINACH – Arugula is my favorite substitute for spinach. But you could also use a mixed bag of lettuce from the grocery store.
- SALAD DRESSING – This simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing is fantastic, classic and compliments the flavors of the spinach, cheese and nuts. I prefer it to other dressings when pairing this salad with a heavy main dish (such as pasta). However, you can use any homemade or store bought dressing that you like.
ADDITIONAL TOPPINGS FOR SPINACH SALAD:
Play around with different toppings on your salad. Here are some suggestions:
- FRUIT: Sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Sliced apples, pears or grapes. Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries and blueberries) are also great additions to any salad (but can add a bit more sugar).
- VEGGIES: Avocado, Tomato and cucumber.
- NUTS (TOASTED!): Pine nuts, sliced almonds and chopped pecans.
- CHEESE: Gorgonzola cheese is wonderful on salads. As well as Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Asiago, feta and goat cheese as previously mentioned.
- ADDITIONAL PROTEIN: Diced chicken, chopped cooked bacon and chopped boiled egg.
- OTHER: Capers, olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
TOASTING PINE NUTS:
Toasting seeds and nuts brings out a whole new flavor in them (and they are crunchier after toasting!). Here are 2 ways to toast pine nuts (and any other seed or nut):
- OVEN: Preheat oven to 350. Spread pine nuts in a single layer on baking sheet (on parchment paper). Bake for about 5 minutes. Once the pine nuts begin to change color immediately remove from the oven and transfer to a cool plate. They burn easily!
- STOVE TOP: Heat a pan over medium heat. Place pine nuts in the pan in a single layer. Toast just until the pine nuts begin to change color (stirring often). Immediately transfer to a cool plate.
Because pine nuts burn VERY easily I prefer the stove top method. Because I can see them and am stirring them so often I am much less likely to burn them.
ENJOY! And don’t be afraid to get creative. 🙂
OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp coursely ground black pepper
- 6 oz fresh baby spinach
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- Add dressing ingredients to a medium bowl.
- Whisk to emulsify.
- Add spinach to a large bowl.
- Toss with salad dressing.
- Top with toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmesan.
- Season with extra black pepper if desired.